‘Aides to  Trump hired Israel spies to take on Iran deal'

‘Aides to Trump hired Israel spies to take on Iran deal'

Aides to US President Donald Trump have reportedly hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to devise a “dirty ops” campaign against key Obama administration officials who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal in a scheme to discredit the agreement.

Trump administration officials contacted private investigators in May of last year, directing them to “get dirt” on former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, the deputy assistant to former President Barack Obama, as part of an elaborate scheme to undermine the deal, UK-based The Observer newspaper revealed in a report on Saturday.

The extraordinary development comes days before Trump’s May 12 deadline to either scrap or continue to abide by the international pact regarding Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

“These are extraordinary and appalling allegations but which also illustrate a high level of desperation by Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, not so much to discredit the deal but to undermine those around it,” said former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Officials linked to Trump’s team contacted Israeli intelligence elements days after the US president visited Tel Aviv a year ago. Trump then made a pledge to Netanyahu that Iran would never have nuclear weapons – despite the fact that Tehran has always maintained that it is principally and categorically opposed to development and use of nuclear arms.

The British newspaper further cited a source familiar with details of the “dirty tricks campaign” as saying that “the idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it.”

The Israeli investigators in the “dirty ops” mission were to look at Rhodes' and Kahl's personal relationships with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and to determine whether they had benefited personally or politically from the nuclear deal.

Rhodes slammed the the scheme by the Trump administration as "chillingly authoritarian" in a statement to the British newspaper.

“I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do," he said.

A spokesman for the White House’s national security council offered “no comment” when contacted about the revelation.

Trump has repeatedly signaled his intention to scrap the Iran deal, denouncing it as “the worst deal ever.” In a January speech, he accused his predecessor of having “curried favor" with the Iranian government so as to "push through the disastrously flawed Iran nuclear deal.”

The development comes days after Netanyahu again accused Iran of continuing to hide and expand its nuclear weapons know-how after the 2015 deal, in what was widely regarded as a scripted, publicity presentation to further pressure the Trump administration to reject the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

During the televised show, Netanyahu claimed that the Israeli regime possessed a wide array of “new and conclusive proof” of purported Iranian violations.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the White House for an official state visit, during which he tried to persuade Trump to remain in the agreement. Following the visit, Macron told reporters that he still expects Trump to exit the deal.

“My view — I don’t know what your president will decide — is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons,” said the French president.

The European Union, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have expressed support for the deal in the wake of the Israeli claims.

Iran has on numerous occasions asserted that its nuclear program is merely peaceful and not meant to make nukes.

This is while Israel is widely thought to possess hundreds of nuclear nuclear warheads and refuses to either allow inspections of its nuclear facilities or join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


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